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Sophomore Hunter Knight
Duke Closes Out Nike Cup in Strong Fashion
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 11/19/2011
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Duke men's and women's swimming and diving teams closed out the 2011 Janis Hape Dowd Nike Cup Invitational on a strong note Saturday at North Carolina's Koury Natatorium in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devil women placed second in the field of eight squads while the men earned a third-place finish at the conclusion of the three-day meet.

Duke saw a combined four school records fall during the course of the competition, while Blue Devil swimmers also achieved 14 NCAA 'B' cut qualifying times. In addition, three divers also surpassed NCAA Zone Diving standards on the one and three-meter boards.

"We're absolutely thrilled with the teams' performance," said head coach Dan Colella. "They've worked extremely hard this fall, and every year it seems like have a better understanding of what it really takes to take it to the next level ... To have them actually reap the fruits of all their labor was really great to see this weekend."

Senior distance swimmer Rose O'Connor led off Saturday evening's finals with a sixth-place showing in the women's 1,650 free, posting a time of 17:03.03.

After breaking her own school record in the 200 back with a 1:58.00 performance during Saturday morning's prelims, senior Cara Vogel posted another NCAA 'B' qualifying mark in the evening finals. The Raynham, Mass., native clocked 1:58.40 to finish second overall, while teammate Meghan Dwyer also posted an NCAA 'B' cut and personal-best time of 1:58.77 to come in third. In the men's 200 back finals, junior Ted Minturn placed fifth while establishing a new personal record at 1:49.35.

Duke was also well represented by its sprinters in the finals of the 100 free. Sophomore Lauren Weaver claimed a fifth-place finish in the championship final, touching in a personal-best time of 51.15. On the men's side, junior Ben Hwang took fourth at 44.92.

Sophomore Christine Wixted posted her fifth individual NCAA 'B' cut time of the three-day meet, swimming 2:12.29 in the finals of the women's 200 breast to finish third. Her mark was also just .02 seconds off of her own school record in the event.

In another bright spot for the Blue Devils, sophomore Hunter Knight broke Eric Steinhouse's 31-year-old school record in the men's 200 breast. Knight clocked 2:00.53 in a second-place performance, besting Steinhouse's previous mark of 2:00.80. Meanwhile, teammate Piotr Safronczyk finished right behind Knight in third place at 2:02.38.

The Blue Devils wrapped up the meet with a pair of strong performances in the 400 free relay. Wixted, Weaver, Dwyer and junior Francesca Tocci combined for a season-best time of 3:24.71 in a third-place finish for the Duke women. On the men's side, sophomore Steven Gasparini, Safronczyk, senior Ben Tuben and Hwang notched an NCAA 'B' cut time of 3:00.57 to also come in third.

Junior Jordan Long took third in the men's three-meter diving competition with a score of 386.55, while senior Cody Kolodziejzyk finished fourth at 374.05. Senior Jessica Lyden grabbed a third-place finish on the one-meter board with her score of 303.75. All three diving scores were good for NCAA Zone Diving Championships standards.

Host North Carolina won the women's meet with a score of 1,494, while Duke took second with 628 points and South Carolina finished third at 619. The Tar Heels also won the meet on the men's side, recording 1,334 points. The U.S. Naval Academy finished second with 752 points, and the Blue Devils took third at 572.5.

Following the weekend meet, the women's squad remains 2-4 overall and 0-4 in conference action while the men are 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC.

"This is setting everybody up for the back half of the season," Colella said. "It's been a great weekend and a great experience with a lot of fast swimming and a lot of things learned about how we can continue to be better come ACCs."

The Blue Devils resume their 2011-12 slate on Saturday, Jan. 14, when they travel to Columbia, S.C. to face South Carolina and the Queens University of Charlotte. Duke's divers will compete next at the USA Diving Winter Nationals Dec. 15-22 in Knoxville, Tenn.